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NBA SportsLine projections: Celtics, not Raptors, own best odds to win East; Warriors remain clear title favorites

The 2018-19 NBA season has been off to quite the interesting start due to injuries to key players, drama in locker rooms and multiple teams either greatly exceeding or failing to live up to expectations. Now that we’re just about a quarter of the way through the season, we have a big enough sample size to see what teams are really about. SportsLine data scientist Stephen Oh has run the simulations and crunched the numbers to give us some updated projections on where teams will finish this season. 

Here’s a look at the odds for every team to make the playoffs, win their conference and win the title. 

Western Conference

A few takeaways from these projections:

  • The drama surrounding the Warriors has settled down a bit, and they’ve gotten Stephen Curry back from an 11-game absence. While they still haven’t been great on the court lately, the SportsLine projections still see them as heavy title favorites. Their odds to win it all are over 40 percent, while no one else has better than a 17.3 percent chance at lifting the trophy. 
  • The Rockets have been pretty up and down lately, but the projections are holding firm on them being the second-best team in the West. Their win projection total is still at 52, their odds to win the conference are over 25 percent, and they have a greater than 15 percent chance to win the title. Houston is back in action on Monday night when it visits the Minnesota Timberwolves (8 p.m. ET — watch on fuboTV with the NBA League Pass extension).
  • While the Nuggets and Clippers are currently tied for first place in the crowded West, the SportsLine data doesn’t see them holding on to those top spots. In the latest projections, the Nuggets are on pace for 48.6 wins and fourth in the conference, while the Clips are projected for 47.3 wins and a fifth place finish. 
  • Marc Gasol and Mike Conley have led the Memphis Grizzlies to a 13-9 start, which has them in sixth place in the West. However, the SportsLine data doesn’t see that continuing. In fact, not only do the projections see them missing out on the playoffs, they don’t even see them getting to 40 wins. 

Eastern Conference

A few takeaways from these projections:

  • The Raptors have been spectacular to start the season, and boast the league’s best record at 20-4. Kawhi Leonard is playing at an MVP level, and they’re currently riding an eight-game winning streak. And yet, they’re no longer the favorites to win the East. The Celtics have pulled slightly ahead in that department — though the Raptors still have the better title odds, at 17.3 percent.
  • Boston started out slow this season, but it has recently gotten back on track. Winning three in a row, they’re up to 13-10 on the season, and are just two and a half games out of second place in the standings. Thanks to their strong play recently, they now have the best odds to win the Eastern Conference at 36.4 percent, which is slightly ahead of the Raptors. 
  • Are the Magic for real? Prior to the season, the SportsLine projections had them as the second-worst team in the East, and expected them to win just 27 games. Now, the most recent data gives them greater than 65.7 percent chance to make the playoffs for the first time since 2012. 
  • The Bulls fired head coach Fred Hoiberg, but don’t expect any new-coach bounce. The projections don’t even see them getting to 17 wins, and they already have a zero percent chance of making the playoffs. 

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